Cover image for Nashville's Lower Broad : the street that music made
Nashville's Lower Broad : the street that music made
Rouda, Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington [D.C.] : Smithsonian Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 130 pages : illustrations ; 25 x 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F444.N275 B76 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Like Beale Street in Memphis and Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Lower Broadway was the heart of the country music scene in Nashville, the place where locals could rub elbows with stars and impromptu jam sessions could last late into the night. But after the Grand Ole Opry moved out of the Ryman Auditorium in the 1970s, Lower Broad deteriorated into a down-and-out skid row. When the Ryman's reopening and urban gentrification started bringing people--especially tourists--back to Lower Broad in the 1990s, locals fought to retain some of its old-time authenticity. Bill Rouda's evocative photographs capture the return of the spirit of real country music in honky-tonks like Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Robert's Western World. Here bands like the hip, retro BR549 played for tips while fans danced the night away, ignoring the shadows of the newly constructed convention center and the glare of Planet Hollywood. Rouda's photographs also capture legends like Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson and attest to the true heart and soul of country music.

Author Notes

Bill Rouda is a widely exhibited documentary art photographer and teacher residing in North Carolina

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Until the Grand Ole Opry moved out of neighboring Ryman Auditorium, the 400 block of Broadway Avenue in downtown Nashville was the launching pad for country-music stars. When photographer Rouda became a denizen in the mid-1990s, the street had known hard times but was on the way back up. A revivified Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and the clothing-store-turned-honky-tonk Robert's Western World each had a smokin' house band. Across the street, the Turf and the Music City Lounge kept the faith with humbler talent. Rouda made friends with street regulars and bar staff and took a lot of pictures. Black-and-white and slightly, artfully soft-focused, they depict a gritty place, where whiskery Blue-Eyedohn drains a pint in front of the Turf in broad daylight and bar proprietor Miss Pat posts etiquette instructions over the urinal that conclude, Do not tear this sign off wall or I will kill you. Young band members and patrons are rawboned. Older folk are as weather-beaten as the buildings. Everyone looks working-class, which, according to a musician David Eason quotes in the sterling introduction, is essential to country music. In 1998 a tornado took out the Turf and the Music City. By then the hot bands had split or split up. Rouda recorded those developments, too, for this outstanding photo-essay and fine work of Americana. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Table of Contents

Lucinda WilliamsBill RoudaDavid Eason
Forewordp. vii
Prefacep. xi
Longing for a Song: Nashville's Lower Broadway in Good Times and Badp. 1
Nashville's Lower Broadp. 18
Acknowledgmentsp. 130